US wants increased police access to email: report

Jul 29, 2010
A wireless internet router sits on top of a laptop computer. The White House wants to give the FBI easier access to the Internet activity of suspects without a court order, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

The White House wants to give the FBI easier access to the Internet activity of suspects without a court order, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

Investigators would seek that access only in cases related to a terrorism or intelligence investigation, and would not include the content of email messages, the Post reported, citing unnamed attorneys and senior administration officials as sources.

Under the proposed rules, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents could find who sends an message, the time and date it is sent and received, and possibly a user's Internet surfing history but not their Internet search queries.

Advocates say the information is the modern equivalent of telephone toll billing records, which FBI agents can get with no court authorization.

Finding electronic addresses to which the Internet user sends messages is similar to getting a list of numbers a phone user calls, supporters told the Post.

Obtaining such records with a judge's approval "allows us to intercede in plots earlier than we would if our hands were tied and we were unable to get this data in a way that was quick and efficient," the senior administration official told the Post.

This proposed measure broadens the FBI authority in the fight against terrorism and is an extension of the Patriot Act, a series of security-related measures approved after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks in the United States.

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